BYSTRÖM Britta, Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood) for horn, piano and violin 

After starting to learn the trumpet at the age of ten, Britta Byström soon started to compose her own music. Most of her output is for orchestra, but her quest for new and surprising sonorities can also be heard in chamber works including a string quartet (Letter in April), and a piano trio (Symphony in Yellow) as well as the present horn trio. Byström’s Kinderszenen borrows its title from Schumann’s famous piano work and its scoring from Brahms’s Horn Trio, but the music is entirely original in colour and substance. Bystöm says that before starting a composition she always has a clear picture in her mind of the musical world she wants to create, and this is apparent from the first notes of Kinderszenen where fragmentary themes on violin and horn are set against repeated notes on the piano, suggesting perhaps that Byström’s childhood scenes are those of a Swedish winter. The form of this single movement and its contrasting episodes seem to evolve naturally: a fast section is notable for its rhythmic energy but fizzles out on a sustained horn note, giving way to a passage of eerie calm with the violin playing pizzicato against piano trills. A brief return to the vigour of the fast music leads to a recollection of the opening before Kinderszenen dissolves into silence. 

Nigel Simeone © 2022 

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